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Anne Truitt in Japan focuses on the formative drawings Truitt made while living in Tokyo from 1964 to 1967 — a pivotal moment for her, both artistically and intellectually. In the arc of her career, this period has sometimes been overlooked, even dismissed. The reason may be that Truitt, while preparing for a mid-career retrospective in the early 1970s, chose to destroy all of the Japan sculptures still in her possession. Many had never been exhibited; all were made of painted aluminum, a material she had adopted in Japan but ultimately found unsuited to her aesthetic intentions.
Nonetheless, this process of discovery would be essential to the long-term clarification of Truitt’s approach to sculpture, and her work in aluminum constituted one of several studio innovations she developed in Japan — many in the form of drawings — that would profoundly inform her lifelong practice. As Truitt herself later commented, “If I had not gone to Japan, I would not know anything. I would not know what is what.”
Anne Truitt in Japan presents the full range of these works on paper, from hard-edge polygons to veil-like fields of color. Though their primary medium is acrylic paint, Truitt consistently referred to them as drawings. She applied color with brushes and rollers, even soaked paper in pans of diluted acrylic, often using materials she had discovered in Japan, including sumi ink and rice paper, some of which would remain an integral part of her art-making for decades.
In the essay, Anna Lovatt examines this period as a “turn” in Truitt’s career, “in the sense of both a reorientation and a permanent remodeling, of the kind performed by a piece of wood turned upon a lathe.” An extensive illustrated chronology provides a detailed account of the artist’s experience in Japan and its impact on her subsequent work. Also reproduced for the first time are photographs of the twenty-three sculptures Truitt made in Japan, all since lost or destroyed.